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Sage Software — Simply Accounting By Sage

From the June/July 2006 Review of
Small Business Accounting Systems

Simply Accounting by Sage for Microsoft Office Users provides an entry-level
SMB accounting application that can handle multiple currencies and is available
in English and Spanish in the United States, as well as in versions for the
UK, Canada, French Canadian, South Africa and Asia. The system was formerly
offered by ACCPAC, which was acquired by Sage, the makers of Peachtree and the
MAS lines. The program is offered in Basic and Pro editions. The Basic Edition
reviewed here is a single-user-only application that includes GL, AP and AR
capabilities, along with payroll, inventory, purchasing and job costing, and
supports cash and accrual-basis methods. The more advanced Pro Edition includes
time-based billing, EFT capabilities and other features. Simply Accounting Basic
costs $49.99 for a single user. The Pro version costs $299 for a two-user system.
Tax rates and program updates are available for $149 per year.

Ease of Use/Basic Functionality — 5 Stars
Simply Accounting sports a redesigned home page that provides more simplified
access to the system’s primary features. Instead of traditional accounting
terms such as AP and AR, the system offers large icons for these features with
titles that should be a little friendlier to users with non-accounting backgrounds,
such as Receipts, Purchase Invoices, Sales Invoices and Pay Vendor Invoices.
Additionally, the system groups general tasks into categories that are also
accessible via a row of tabs across the top of the screen that change the function
icons in the page. These include General, Vendors & Purchases, Customers
& Sales, Payroll, Inventory & Services, and Project.

Simply Business includes wizards that assist in setup of GL accounts, which
can be done by following industry-specific templates or manually. It also allows
customization of terminology, which lets different types of entities use terms
appropriate for their business, such as customers, clients, guests or visitors.
Additional user-preference customization is also available. The system’s
integration with MS Word and Excel for form letters and reporting is a friendly
factor, since users are likely to be experienced with those programs and won’t
have to learn a new system.

Data-entry forms appear in subwindows that include multiple tabs for accessing
related information, and offer automatically populated lists for selecting account
numbers, customers, vendors, inventory items, tax rates, cities and other information,
easing the input process. Defaults can also be set to automatically fill in
specific field information. Customer and vendor selection screens provide information
such as balances, credit limits and YTD sales data, while full information lists
can be generated on-screen or printed showing information selected by the user.

Modules/Customization/Expandability — 4.5 Stars
As an all-inclusive system, the core functions such as payroll, GL, AP, AR,
inventory and project tracking are included with Simply Accounting with no need
to add additional modules. The basic functions are divided among several module-like
areas, including General (GL), Vendors & Purchases (AP and PO), Customers
& Sales (AR, estimates and sales orders), Payroll, Inventory & Services,
and Project. Within the project management function, businesses can establish
independent cost centers for specific projects, allowing more
accurate distribution of costs and revenue related to that project.

The program offers several customization features, including multiple languages,
optional industry-specific terminology or accounting terms, various user checklists,
color coding options for different tasks, and the My Business tab on the home
page, which users can organize to show the data most important to their daily
use of the system. When the time comes to move up to a more robust accounting
system, companies can easily transfer data into the Simply Accounting Pro edition,
which offers the same core functionality along with expanded reporting, analysis
and business management tools.

Reporting & Management Functions — 4 Stars
Simply Accounting includes a custom report builder that houses more than 100
stock reports that can be customized or users can create their own, with all
reports being editable with Word and Excel. This integration with Microsoft
products provides comfortable control and the ability to easily add graphical
elements to customize reports to specific needs. The system also allows e-mailing
of reports, invoices, statements and POs. Payroll functions include up to 10
types of deductions and eight pay types, with support for multiple states. Payroll
rate updates are included with the company’s optional Simply Care support

Simply Accounting offers user-level security, but is a single-user program
(it can support more than one user, but only one at a time). Several features
offer management functions, including the Business Assistant function, which
offers a Daily Business Manager that shows an Outlook-style calendar with a
To-Do list, notes, memos, and alerts for due POs, sales orders, payments and
sales. An assortment of checklists is also available, helping ensure end-of-day,
-month and -year procedures are properly followed.

Audit Trail, Integrity & Accountant Control Tools — 4.5 Stars
The program maintains a full-time audit trail that records all transactions
and changes to system data, thereby allowing authorized users to make adjusting
entries, but never letting any user delete a transaction or change it once it
has been posted. The system conforms to GAAP and European accounting principles.
Authorization and security tools allow protection of sensitive data and restriction
of specific tasks to only authorized staff.

Import/Export/Integration — 5 Stars
Enhanced integration with Microsoft Office allows opening reports directly into
Word and Excel, as well as synchronization of the contact lists with Outlook
and the ability to send various reports and sales/invoice documents via e-mail
directly from within the accounting system. The program also offers direct import
from QuickBooks, MYOB and Quicken.

Help & Support Options — 4.5 Stars
Simply Accounting offers many assistive features, including the “How Do
I” panel at the right of the screen that offers step-by-step guidance
for several topics, depending upon the part of the program where the user currently
resides. Although right-click menus are negligible, the program includes a strong
Help utility that includes new search features, including advanced, basic and
“quick” searches. The company offers a variety of training options,
including a Learning Guide CD, workbooks and manuals. Support is included for
the first 30 days and is then offered in various packages.

Relative Value — 5 Stars
Sage has continued the development of Simply Accounting, helping it evolve into
an attractively priced yet fully functional and easy-to-use accounting system
for small businesses looking for an entry-level business management package.
The program’s exceptional interface takes only seconds to grow accustomed
to, while the reporting and integration features aid in providing professional-looking
invoices, receipts and other customer deliverables. The Basic version of the
system allows only one concurrent user, so it is intended for small entities.
Those in need of more users should check out the Pro version.

2006 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars